Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on the Wealth Formula podcast his Damion Lupo. He is the founder of Total Control Financial. Sounds like a protein bar to me. But it’s but it’s that kind of gravitas, right? He is a guy who’s had quite a life up to now. He’s only forty years old. He was worth over twenty million Bucks in his twenties but then like a lot of people got caught up in the Great Recession and got hit pretty bad. You know I had the fortune of talking Damion on the phone yesterday. It’s the first time I ever met him. After that I absolutely had to have them on the show, today. And so it just we’ve moved around the schedule a little bit to get this information you because I think it’s worth having right now. Damion, welcome to Wealth Formula podcast.
Damion: Hey Buck it’s really good to be here man. Thanks for having me. I can’t wait to share everything with…
Buck: Good stuff! So let’s move back though, because I always like people to get to know, you know, the people were talking to you and me here is so tell us about the story. This is an interesting story in itself: the rise and fall of a young, ultimately a young real estate investor, an entrepreneur so take us back.
Damion: Yeah I did like a lot of people did, I showed up at a seminar because I read a book. And I think that that’s a common book theme with many people the real estate space like Rich Dad Poor Dad sure that was it triggered me and I said, “Hey I want to be that guy”. Actually back in ninety nine I looked around I said, “Who do I really want to be? I want to be Donald Trump.”
Buck: Right, right.
Damion: That was because Donald Trump was the real estate guy before he was president right? So I went out to Florida and met Kiyosaki at an event. A real estate investing event. And then I just bought everything everyone of the speakers had all their tapes, literally tapes. And listen to them. Burned out the tapes and I started doing what they suggested and basically did it blindly because one of the naive things you do when you’re twenty, twenty two years old is you think you can build the great wall of China in a week. So I went out did it and stumbled my way through the process of buying a whole bunch of houses which turned into a hundred fifty houses. Apartments, condo developments in Birmingham, Memphis like I was all over the place. And I was pretty invincible at least in my own mind.
Buck: What what year was that? What year did you start doing all that?
Damion: So I started in 2000. January 2000 is the beginning.
Damion: And really built the stuff up over five years. So it’s definitely possible to create massive wealth and very quickly. The problem is that I really didn’t have a foundation of values or mission or morals, and that’s a big problem. Because a lot of money just really accelerates who you already are and emphasizes it.
Damion: And I found out who I was, I wasn’t a very good guy.
Buck: When you’re in your twenties I don’t know that…I think that’s asking a lot.
Damion: It is, I mean, what happens basketball, baseball, all these sports, you give all these young guys millions of dollars and yeah they lose their minds, I did too.
Buck: Well but was it losing your mind or was it over leverage that really ultimately took you down.
Damion: Well let’s just put it this way my ego is driving the ship. And the leverage definitely crushed me, but my ego thought I was invincible. So if you’re invincible you don’t care about leverage, you think, “ugh, I could have a hundred twenty percent leverage and everything and just keep levering it, up but it ate my equity and ultimately, when things turned down, I don’t have any place to go except off a cliff.
Buck: Got it. So basically what happened was you were you’re doing cash out refis, maybe you thought you’d buy more, but then you were spending a lot of it too, so whatever equity that you’re pulling out you weren’t necessarily even reinvesting, you were buying Ferraris and stuff.
Damion:I did. And the stuff that I was going after, you know in 2005, I saw the market being a little bit frothy and I said okay let me pull some money out, but then I got greedy and wasn’t willing to sit on the sidelines for five minutes, so I went bought a whole bunch of stuff we started developing thinking, “well I could just do a bigger project”. And again, I was so successful that there’s no way I can lose
Damion: so I just kept going without really looking at the market and being rational at all.
Buck: What did you, so what did you learn from all that?
Damion: Well there’s there are few things: one, you have to understand why you’re doing it. If it’s just for the money you’re gonna eventually lose the money because money ebb and flows and so it’s got to be something bigger than just the money. It’s part of it. The other thing that I really missed out on was not having people around me throughout the whole process. I did in the beginning. I hired coaches, I mean I spent, one mentor in particular I spent four hundred thousand dollars in two years on and it was ten thousand a month, plus his trainings. And this is for like one phone call a month
Buck: Oh my God!
Damion: And so, I invested a ton in these really, really all the grey haired people that had a lot of experience, and then I stopped because I thought, “Why do I need anybody telling me what I already know? I’m so smart.” And the truth is, I didn’t have enough wisdom because I hadn’t been through the cycles yet. So the the learning was, always have people that will tell you the truth no matter what the truth is, even when you don’t want to hear it and be willing to listen to them.
Buck: Yeah I mean I think there’s a lot of wisdom there. And you know what? The reality is that you’re in your twenties and that’s…regardless of what happened, right, it’s like you’re forty now so it’s like really I mean this is in my view being in my forties, this is really when the game begins for most people anyway. So you had a very expensive lesson is what you did and and you’ve come out of it you know…much better
Damion: One of the funny parts is, as I look back and I go, “Why didn’t I do ten times more?” Because I was still playing a little bit nervous thinking that maybe something even though I was naive and going fast, I was still concerned with people thought. There was still that judgment piece, so I wasn’t willing to go even faster, even more intensely going into my own because of that fear of judgment. And I think everybody has a piece of that that we take from our childhood about making mistakes. And the lesson is go harder, faster, hustle. Because if you can’t, you probably should, because eventually you won’t be able to. Eventually you get too old to get tired. And so when you have the energy go for it yeah. I just realized, failing faster is one of the keys to life.
Buck: Yeah failing faster is a key. You can also, I mean it sounds like you try to do this little bit with the coaching but you had to you know…I always say you can you learn from your mistakes or you learn from mistakes in general, there’s no question about it. But they don’t have to be your mistakes, right? So a lot of times when…you get into coaching programs or whatever, if they’re good they can potentially save you from that. But that I mean it is what it is right? You know, you’re right, you know you’ve got…you’re at the prime your life starting something new. For reference is funny to talk about, but I kind of feel like I missed out because when I…you know I was a surgical resident until two thousand and eight. So pretty much my twenties and early thirties were in surgical training, medical training and so I kind of just like, I don’t know, studied through my twenties and thirties and kind of, and I look back and I don’t even practice anymore and I’m like “Damn!” You know I wish I got to, like drive some Ferraris or something and had some fun!
Damion: Hey surgery is kind of like a Ferrari. It’s very intense and you know, you never know what’s gonna happen.
Buck: Yeah, no it’s not as cool, sorry. Thanks for saying that though.
Damion: You’re fine.
Buck: So let’s talk a little bit about really the reason that I needed to get you on the show today, because you know you told me something about that I hadn’t heard about really before yesterday. And it made a lot of sense. And you know whenever I hear somebody tell me about something I don’t know about. It’s not like it doesn’t happen anymore, but it has happens less and less. You know there’s always something I don’t know about, but you know it’s happening less and less and when it does, I get super excited and I think I gotta tell everybody about it. And that’s what you did yesterday by telling me about this concept, Which is the…it’s a QRP, is that’s what you call it, right QRP?
Buck: And that stands for Qualified Retirement Plan, but really that’s a very broad name for something. and really what I thought was interesting about it is that this is a product that probably for most people who are investing in anything with leverage. Real Estate, for example, really should be the vehicle choice rather than a self-directed IRA. Can you talk a little bit about how you came up upon this, how you got involved, and then ultimately a little bit about the QRP?
Damion: Yeah back almost a decade ago I had a friend of mine when I had a precious metals company come to me and tell me he wanted to use this is QRP to buy some silver. And I said I don’t know what you’re talking about but if if that means you’re sending me a check, I’m in, you know I’m happy to help you. And I thought that was kind of curious that he was using a retirement account, something like an IRA or something.
Damion: And I thought ,well I’m gonna learn about this. So I dug into it realizes there is this whole world out there that nobody was talking about QRP. And basically what it is, it’s this IRA on steroids. And the more I dug into it ,the more I realized this is an IRA killer it’s something that should be in place of the IRA for almost everybody and it’s because you can do so many more things with it and then recently what’s happened is people that are using their IRA’s with real estate are starting to find out about this really sneaky tax that you’re getting hammered with, and the great thing is with the QRP, it’s exempt from this tax, so you can invest in real estate and have all sorts of leverage that debt which is why we love real estate because you can borrow tons of money and you don’t get taxed, so you can create this massive wealth tax free using the ROTH part of your plan and I just thought oh my gosh this is like the secret weapon. It’s almost, it’s almost like a weapon of mass destruction but it’s mass wealth creation instead.
Buck: Right right so then you just said, you know, you wanted to…it’s a problem and usually that’s where business starts an entrepreneurial guy looks at and says. You know I can help people, and at the same time, there’s a business here.
Buck: Yeah. Now, is this concept, is it different from a solo 401K?
Damion: It is. A lot of people think that they’re sort of all the same. But most solo 401Ks, solo Ks, none of those have liability protection. They’re not covered by ERISA. That’s a huge problem because you’re more likely to lose your money as you know in medicine, we can go bankrupt in medicine, but in this country you’re more likely to lose your money from getting sued, something like somebody trips over your front lawn or whatever and you get sued. So the problem with the solos is that they don’t have the ERISA protection because there’s one person. We’ve solved the problem with the eQRP which is our own process. It’s our trademark patented process to build this system around a qualified retirement plan that includes the liability protection. So it’s literally one of a kind in the markets, you get the protections and all the advantages of the code that are built in. So it’s it’s literally the best in class, best in market nationwide.
Buck: So let’s talk about it a little bit, in a little bit more detail. Because this is, I wanna break it down why I think it’s really important. So now, typically, so we’ve talked about this on the show before with self-directed IRAs. For most people, you know they’re they’re looking for cash, they’re looking to figure out ways to invest in a lot of times they don’t have it because they’ve dumped it all in their retirement accounts over time, and that’s where it’s been accumulating, and then one day they realize they can self-direct then like, holy cow! I can self-direct, this is great! I don’t have to buy mutual funds like the guy at the bank told me…I wonder why he told me that anyway. And so then they get a self-directed IRA and then they say this is great now I can invest in all these things. I can do notes and Hey I can even do real estate. And real estate is great and one of the reasons why real estate is a great asset class to invest in is because it utilizes leverage most the time. And I’ve talked about this on the show before, but one of the disadvantages of using a self-directed IRA for real estate is that that component of profit that comes from the leverage is taxable. It’s called UBIT, right?
Buck: And what Damion is telling us is that there is a way around this.And it’s by not using a self directed IRA, it’s by using a QRP, which gives you all of the benefits, but now you don’t have to pay tax on leverage. So what’s the catch?
Damion: The catch is Wall Street and custodians don’t like it. They don’t want you to know about it, so you haven’t heard about it. And there’s one word that explains that AUM: Assets Under Management. It’s how the financial system makes all its money off of fees so they don’t want to give you something or information about something that would put all that control in your hands and not fee you. So this is, there there is a reason you haven’t heard about it, there’s a reason that this doesn’t exist for most people in their vocabulary. And the down side is you’re in control. And the upside is you’re in control. So if somebody’s a little reckless, this is actually a really dangerous thing because you are holding the keys and you can do whatever you want with it and that for some people that’s just a bad idea they should definitely not touch their money but for people that are listening to this you’re already investing in your in your self so to me that makes you responsible.
Buck: Right.Really, I mean that’s like, I mean that’s true with the self-directed IRA in general as well, but I think what the qrp is doing is giving you additional flexibility and is basically making it so now you can really, really use leverage to your advantage.
Damion: It is. Keep in mind that with QRP, you’re the trustee, and means that there’s no…like in IRA there’s always this custodian and they create friction and in theory they’re protecting you, they’re not really doing that, but in theory they are. But with QRP, you’re literally just…
Buck: There’s no custodian. So you mentioned a second ago, silver which and I presume gold then too so that’s not something you can ordinarily invest in with an IRA.
Damion: No. This sort of a huge thing about the QRP, you can physically take possession of gold and silver, so a lot of us like the idea of being able to hedge against the dollar with all the federal reserve printing. So you can take tax deferred money which I say is like getting a thirty percent subsidized purchase of gold and silver by the feds. And you get to hold the medals as the trustee. So why would you not do that? Why would you take after-tax money and buy silver and gold when you can effectively take possession of it with tax deferred money? It’s a great way…you can’t do that with an IRA, it has to be at a financial institution, a depository, you can actually get posession with a QRP, major advantage.
Buck: Is there any other rules that, you know, typically with with IRAs that you can’t do that you can do or you can invest in or whatever just you know similar to silver and gold because that’s you know, I’m just trying to understand, so I don’t know myself, in this situation, what other additional flexibility is there maybe that that we haven’t covered.
Damion: Well one of the things that you have, similar rules about who you can invest with or what you can invest in. With with real estate you clearly have the ability to do leverage and have leverage without the tax. One of the really neat things is, it’s got , QRP has a built in credit line. And so you got this IRA money maybe a rollover from a 401K or something. You got money stuck in an IRA, and you go, gosh I’d really like to be able to do a deal over here, not retirement deal but I got an opportunity or want to start a business or something and you don’t any cash. well if your money is in the QRP, you can borrow fifty thousand dollars out of that in five seconds you just write yourself a check and you’ve got the money.
Buck: Without penalty?
Damion: No penalty. You just write yourself a check. And then you pay your QRP back that’s a major advantage over that IRA that you can’t touch.
Buck: Right, right. That is a big difference. You can do this with…you can do this with, you said you can roll it over right? Because that was a that was a major question I had because, you know to me, this is like, I feel so many people who’ve got all their money sitting in a retirement account. How difficult is it to roll over? I mean for example, you know, what do you do with money that’s already, maybe it’s already invested in real estate in your self-directed IRA, how do you, you know, can you transfer ownership to your QRP? How does that work.
Damion: Yeah that’s a huge question and it’s really important for people to get this. If you’ve already got real estate in an IRA you can move that. It’s called a Rollover. It’s a transfer of assets in kind. Effectively you’re moving it from custodian to another. well the new custodian is you. You’re the trustee just think of those is the same thing. So you don’t have to sell your real estate, you just transfer the title: from your IRA to your 401K or to your QRP. So basically you’re getting out of this UDFI problem, and you still have the interest because ultimately you’re the… it’s still offloads to you as the beneficiary of all these retirement accounts. It allows you to roll it over. How easy is it? Depends on how many…on the the grip that your custodian has. You have to understand though, a lot of custodians, well actually all of them…
Buck: Legally they can’t stop you from doing this…
Damion: They can’t stop you. What they do is, they want to slow it down and try to frustrate you to the point where you quit. And that’s how they maintain control. but ultimately, it might take a week or two you’re gonna have your stuff in your control.
Buck: You can help with that obviously.
Damion: And we help you every step of the way so it’s…it’s easy.
Buck: I want to be very clear about that because this is, you know, there are times when there are, like you have to stop for a moment and reiterate something. I know for a fact that even in the last, you know, few months, we’ve, even in our real estate deals we’ve got, you know, a lot of IRA money, self-directed IRA money in there. And you know we always talk about this, you know, that there is that UBIT component, there is that issue. What Damion’s talking about here is an opportunity for you to roll over those IRAs into this kind of plan and if you’ve got, you know, a hundred thousand dollars, two hundred thousand dollars in real estate that you’re expecting to pay, that you’re expecting to pay UBIT on, you can get out of it. You can get out of it. That is huge! We’re talking, for some of you, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars here. So I just you know sorry to keep belaboring this, but this is why I think this is such a big deal and I want to make sure we get this message out anybody who has a self-directed IRA right now, I’m sorry I’ve told you to do this in the past because I just didn’t know but this concept these are things that I’m learning about with you but I will tell you right now that this is a very very good option for you at least for the component that you’re gonna consider doing leverage on. Now, let’s talk about the other things so…you can also invest in you can invest in cryptocurrency, right?
Damion: Cryptocurrency, you can invest in private placement, you can invest in…I have people investing coconut farms in Belize, like, it it’s kind of all over the place. You could do almost anything. If they eventually start mining asteroids, like Peter Diamandis, these guys are thinking about, you can probably invest in that too.
Buck: I got to get Peter on this too. He is… that’s really interesting to us. So, can you can you put…can you use a check and write a down payment and lever. Probably not?
Buck: You can.
Damion: Absolutely. People do it all the time.
Buck: So now you’re leveraging your money in an IRA, and I’m not…because his when I was talking about before, whatI was talking about is in the context of private placements, right? Where you’re limited partner and you’ve got leverage that’s occurring on the deal but you know you can invest in the deal. But what you’re saying is you can use this money as a down payment on a property that you’re gonna use leverage on.
Damion: Absolutely, no problem.
Buck: That’s huge. Well, ok.
Damion: It gets, better suits we it we have…you talked about the ROTH component.
Buck: Okay let’s talk about the ROTH component.
Damion: I mean this is where you go in to tax free so yeah there is that crazy debate in 2016 where we saw…the question was “what taxes you pay?” And Donald Trump said you paying zero is smart. And Hillary is talking about how great it was to get 30% or whatever. But the truth is with the ROTH you can pay zero. With with the QRP it’s really neat because there’s no limit on income. With IRAs, they’re some limits where if you make too much money, you can’t go into the ROTH. You are stuck with deferred. Where with the QRP, there’s no discrimination for people that make too much money and that means that you can start shifting your money from deferred body to ROTH, and a couple of neat things: one, you’re never going to pay taxes on those…on that growth. And the money that you’re put again which is your contribution or your basis, that money you can take out at any time no matter what your age is.
Buck: That’s just with the ROTH? Or is that for both?
Damion: For the ROTH
Buck: Ok, ok. So…interesting. So what you’re saying is that if I were to take 100 thousand dollars…by the way, that’s the other thing that’s beautiful for my group here…because we have a lot of professionals, a lot of people who make more money, right? Where ROTH, normally you could only put in what like five grand, right?
Damion: If if you could even get it in there because if you’re…
Buck: Right. Well here you could do a ROTH do like fifty five thousand dollars, right?
Damion: Fifty-five thousand, ten times more than IRA.
Buck: And if you’re married that’s the two of you, so really it’s like a hundred ten thousand dollars.
Damion: Hundred ten thousand per year.
Buck: Hundred ten thousand dollars per year which you could do as a ROTH. And then all of a sudden you buy a bunch of cryptoes…at I’m not saying…I’m not telling anybody do this, but I’m just putting this in theory all said you’ve ten…you’ve got a million bucks in there you say, “Hey, you know what I want to take that 110k out the initial principal and our we’ll ride the rest of it…” You can do that in that money that you pull out of your principal at that point is Tax free though…right?
Damion: There’s no tax event because…
Buck: ...it’s your own money…
only available with the ROTH
Buck: Yeah…but after you pull out the principle, you can’t contribute anymore I presume.
Damion: Oh you can always contribute more. You just have to make sure you have income to contribute, but you can always contribute more.
Buck: But it but then you can pull out your principal back again? so you can kind of keep…okay well that’s not a bad…not a bad deal either. Okay. Let’s see… so what are… are there any downsides to this? Tell me the downsides. There’s got to be some kind of downside, no? Compared to a self directed IRA or self-directed 401K…
Damion: I guess if you’re a socialist and you like paying a lot of taxes which is bad idea, yeah. I mean it’s the truth is there just aren’t downsides to it other than for Wall Street or custodians that’s the downside is for them because the money is staying in your pocket.
So what’s the downside? The downside is a lot of people lose all those fees.
Damion: That’s not your problem. That’s your benefit.
Buck: Right. Let’s let’s back up one more time real quick because a lot of people are wondering, how do I do this, and stuff. What does the structure of this look like, right? I mean with a self directed IRA you’ve got it, basically you’ve got a custodian and an account. Here’s a checkbook. Presumably you need an entity… does the entity have to be… I mean you know is it pulling off money from a corporation? How does it how does it work? I mean, can anybody do this or is it only for business people or what?
Damion: Yes it is so one of the questions is “who’s who’s eligible?” We get asked that all the time. And if you’re in the middle of real estate investing in and that type of space you’re definitely eligible there’s there’s a self employment component and everybody is to real estate has that built into what we’re doing and we will…we can guarantee that you’ll have that and be in compliance with the IRS so if you’re interested and this makes sense you’re definitely eligible. It’s whether you are doing this individually or whether you have an LLC or corporation and you’re running out for your stuff doesn’t make any difference it’s a very similar structure so.
Buck: We’ve got to have some kind of 1099s or K1s coming in or something.
Damion: Yeah, yeah you’ll have something that comes in. It’s…the way I look at this too when when the IRS says you’ve got to have self employment intention or income it’s kinda like when you start a business. The difference between a business and a hobby is a hobby there’s never really intention ever of having profit whereas a business your intention is to have profit at some point. It might not be this year, so it’s not important if you have actual profit it’s just important that you have the intention and that say three to five years down the road that can happen.
Buck: Will like for example, for example let’s say, you know a lot of my folks. Have separate…separate entities specifically for the purpose of investing. Or maybe not even that maybe they’re just getting K1s directly from private placements, right?
Buck: That would qualify presumably.
Buck: But a lot of …most people are probably not going to be doing, you know fifty five thousand dollars worth of dividends per year. At least to start. So could they…they could still contribute fifty five thousand even though they’re not pulling in fifty five thousand dollars in K1 or 1099 income?
Damion: Yeah so that the way that the contributions work there’s, there’s a formula for how you contribute based on your income and and the type of income you have whether it’s W2 or it’s K1, its schedule, see, and we just we help you with the formula. So effectively, if you’ve got rough numbers if you’ve got about a hundred and sixty thousand dollars in income you’d be able to max this out at the fifty five thousand and to give you a rough space of of what it takes to Max it out. And then there’s different levels, in different percentages of your income the tribute. Bottom line is it makes financial sense for everybody to consider doing this especially when you have the ROTH because once a ROTH is set up you got this this vehicle that you can start using, with leverage, with opportunities if you go and you find a piece of property and you tied up with your ROTH and you’ve got a five thousand dollar option piece. And then you convert that into a hundred thousand bucks, you just twenty exed your money and there’s no tax, you know. That by itself means that you don’t necessarily need to have a giant amount of money in this thing to make it incredibly valuable so it’s really the function of the tool it’s not to destroy the amount of money the start within there.
Buck: Right. So, that sounds very good now I think that’s and I think we pretty much covered it.Tell me what this Rwanda trip you’re going on.What’s that all about?
Damion: One of the things that you have to realize in life is, and I mentioned this in the very beginning, is that it’s got to be about more than just about the money. There’s got to be…
Damion: The experience of live. And I remember when I was doing all my stuff, making all this money, and I wasn’t really experiencing life. And I I was…basically spent a decade just for the cash. Well now I’m incorporating these experiences like, one of them is going to Africa and seeing the silverback gorillas live before they’re extinct. They’re very, very endangered. And I get to go in the mountains of Rwanda and be face to face with them in their habitat not a zoo, like right there feet away from these things.
Buck: This sounds very safe.
Damion: I’m sure it’s not safe at all…
Buck: So you don’t come, back we can’t…does somebody…they’re still going to be able to help us so…
Damion: yeah everything that I have is, is out there so that we’re, I’m gonna give you a chance to get a copy of the book and tthings…
Buck: Yeah…Yeah absolutely. You’re generous and you provided a page for me where anyone can order a bunch of information about these topics and I can put up an icon. I’m gonna put up an icon on Wealth Formula. And we’ll put on on the icon so you know where it is. We’ll put “Better than self directed IRA click here” I think that’d get pretty obvious. The other thing you can do if you want to get this information is text me at 44222 and write one word “forgetIRA”, Okay 44222 forgetIRA and I can get you all of these books that Damion’s gonna tell us about right now. What are the books what are these goodies that you are going to send?
Damion: You’re gonna you’re gonna get a copy of the book it’s called The QRP book. I literally wrote the book on The QRPs. The QRP book, so you’re gonna get a copy of that. You’re also going to get, I’m going to email you a report that summarizes it, it’s about eight or ten pages. And it’ll give you the highlights of what we’ve been talking about, so you can start understanding this. Because typically people go through a cycle of this…it sounds unbelievable, why have I not heard of this, and it’s…we’ve talked about this at the AUM. And then they get really mad that they didn’t hear about it ten years ago, and have been screwed around with an IRA and then they go give me the book let’s get going. So if you’re..wherever you’re at, you’re probably part of that cycle somewhere.
Buck: yeah, yeah so again, WealthFormula.com, go click on the icon or 44222 and just type one word, ForgetIRA. And we’ll keep up with Damion. So Damion thanks for being on Wealth Formula podcast today please come back in one piece because I know people are gonna want to talk to you.
Damion: I can’t wait to talk with you and everybody else again I appreciate you having me on here, Buck.